Monday, February 8, 2010

Journey's End

I'd wanted to ride motorcycles since back when I was sitting around with an old friend in GT Bio, and we'd both sit there ignoring the teacher and kicking back chopper style behind our desks, making a quiet variant on the Mouse and the Motorcycle noise.

As soon as I left for college, much to the lament of my mom, I procured myself one. It was a big loud sloppy CB750 with a snarling shot exhaust. It got me to school. It got me home to cast my first vote in a presidential election. I used to ride it in circles around my fraternity, go tearing around the countryside in the middle of the night, and give occasional rides to some of the women who hung around the house. It was fun.

In the summer of 1989, it got me to my second date with my wife. We blatted into town to hit the museums, and when it rained and we wound up under a bridge with four other bikers, she wasn't just not complainy. She was laughing and having fun. It was a good day.

My CX500 came next, and took me back and forth from Charlottesville to Williamsburg dozens of times to see her. It was a torquey little pig of a bike, as trusty as a stone. Then a careworn 750 Sabre, which failed me again and again, it's electrics giving out in the most inopportune moments.

Then a Shadow VLX, which was slow and short of breath, but utterly reliable. It got me to and from work for years, shaving an hour a day off my commute and giving me precious time with my then-baby boys. It sliced and diced through the city to get me to the ministry that reignited my calling. It got me to the church where I interned. It got me to seminary. Four seasons a year, in everything but ice and snow...and sometimes that, too.

From there, a bikeless lull, as I looked for a church. I'd whine and make sad puppy noises whenever a motorcycle rode by, much to the exasperation of the wife.

Then, with my ordination, a used YZF600R. A fine bike, trusty and fast, with remarkable range and more speed than I need. For six years, it got me where I need to go. It mixed getting places with moments of adventure. It was both practical and exuberant and a great conversation starter. I have been "the pastor with the bike." It has been part of my identity.

But somewhere in the last year, that part died. I'm not sure exactly when. But I found I cared less and less. It just no longer mattered. Rides for pleasure had long since stopped happening. Kids needed to be picked up. Things needed to be ported from one place to another. I'd look at the bike, and think, is riding on that same godforsaken quarter-loop of Beltway...again...really worth it? Do I want to throw a leg over the thing? And the answer, which had for more than two decades been yes even if it was 20 degrees out or storming, kept coming back "No."

Things started to fail on the YZF, and rather than fixing them, I just rode less. When the battery died in late summer, I did nothing. It has not started since then. A thick layer of dust covers it. I can't even remember the last time I rode it.

Over a month ago, I determined to sell the thing...and while the missus was convinced that this was just an elaborate ruse to get a newer scoot, it isn't. I'm just ready to have it gone. Not now, of course. With blizzards pounding us, ain't no selling a bike. But come Spring, when the air is sweet and warm, and the trees are speckled with new green life, someone will be more than happy to buy it once it's fixed up a bit. I know I would have been, years ago.

For everything there is a season, I guess.